Tag Archives: Movie

Review of Damien: Omen II (1978)

11 Nov

Damien: Omen II (1978) is a horror/thriller film, it is a sequel to The Omen, set seven years after it.

Directed by Don Taylor (The Final Countdown (1980), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)).

Written by Stanley Mann (Conan the Destroyer (1984), The Mouse That Roared (1959)) and Mike Hodges (Get Carter (1971), Pulp (1972)).

Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathan Scott-Taylor, Lance Henriksen, Robert Foxworth, Nicholas Pryor, Lucas Donat and others.

They know how to make us remember the first movie. We start with the over-the-top score blasting, we’re on a beautiful location and you think that this might be more of the same arguably good movie.

Seven years have passed between the first movie and this, so Damien isn’t just a grumpy tyke. Now he’s a frustrated teenager, living with his adoptive family and trying to act as a real boy. You’re not fooling anyone, Pinocchio. Ok, actually Damien is fooling everyone, except his aunt, who’s making a fuss about it, so she’s put down by the dark forces. With dark forces I mean a crow looking at her ominously.

Damien goes to some kind of military academy with his cousin/brother. There they meet a new platoon officer played by Lance Henriksen. He doesn’t get to do much with the role, but it’s at least nice to see him. Later on he informs Damien of his destiny.

Jonathan Scott-Taylor plays Damien quite well, both managing to make him intimidating and tragically frustrated. He really doesn’t seem to have a solid understanding of his abilities for most of the movie and acts evil more instinctly than consciously. When Damien realises his purpose in life, he is quite distraught and it makes you feel sympathetic. I wouldn’t really want to find out I am the antichrist, seems like a lot of responsibility.

If someone is closing in on Damien’s dirty little secret, they can expect a visit from the friendly neighbourhood hell-crow pretty soon. But don’t let the death of suspicious aunt fool you. He doesn’t just stare at everyone. As we learn from his next attack, he’s going to actively try to harm you, leaving his staring contests exclusively for old ladies.

The crow-attack effects are quite well done, it’s no Birdemic: Shock and Terror, though. The problem is that after a nicely done crow pecking a woman’s eyes out, we see her walk in front of a truck only for us to behold something that suspiciously looks like a „love-doll” dressed in her coat, get run over. It seriously looks like a student film special effect.

Soon another problem becomes apparent with the crow attacks, but actually concerns the movie as a whole. It takes a step back from developing characters and moving the plot along and 40 minutes in, it’s still not clear if the movie is building up to something or are we just going to watch various novelty deaths of people who don’t like Damien, most of the time involving the goddamn crow.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the set-pieces are really cool, like one, that takes place on a frozen lake, but there comes a point, when new characters keep being introduced, just to be killed a couple of minutes later. The movie seems to be just a bunch of death scenes, somehow stringed together by the actual plot.

Yes, the first one had death scenes, but they were inventive, but sparse and mostly happened to characters I cared about. Not to mention that The Omen was a far more intelligent movie, that actually played on the psychological terror, while this is a B-grade exploitation version of the first film, relying on cheap set-ups and impactless pay-offs, pretending to have more substance than it actually does. Also it seems to abandon some of the more interesting ideas of the first one.

Overall, it’s not awful, but it tries to replicate the first one without really understanding what made it good. Using a shitload of death scenes as a safety net. Not recommended.

Pictured: The curiously snake-headed antichrist, looking just like Damien Thorn. Or any other doughy faced innocent looking kid.

Review of Looper (2012)

17 Oct

Looper (2012) is a sci-fi/action/drama film, set in the future, where time travel is illegal and used only by criminal organisations.

Directed by Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom (2008), Breaking Bad (2008 TV)).

Written by Rian Johnson (Brick (2005), Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!! (1996 Short)).

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Paul Dano, Noah Segan and others.

This is another one of those cases, where I feel like saying anything is almost spoiling too much, but I have to say something, so I won’t reveal anything, that the trailers didn’t already show.

So the movie takes place in the future, 2040’s, time travel isn’t invented yet. But it will be invented in 3 decades. There’s these people – loopers, who work for a criminal organisation, that wait for people who are sent back from 2070’s and kill them. Our „hero” is one of these guys. He kills people and gets a shitload of silver for it.

But in the future-future there’s this bad guy The Rainmaker, who decides that the loopers should be sent back in time and be executed by their own younger selves. This is where our „hero”, 30 years older, comes in.

First of all you’re introduced to this future world, which is very realistic, it’s not some over-the-top dystopia, it’s mostly different by having more advanced technology and different trends, it does not like Blade Runner, but it does have that feel of it, There are these people controlling stuff and our hero isn’t sure of his loyalty to those people, also dipping into film noir quite heavily, starting with voice over, multi-dimensional characters with huge flaws and the clothing. And considering Rian Johnson made a modern-day true film noir film with Brick, I bet this was very intentional.

Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe and Bruce Willis’ Joe are not the best people, they are anti-heroes to the point they drop the hero’s part, especially older Joe. They act in their own best interests, ready to do the most awful things if they find it necessary.  Both actors are just brilliant. Levitt is becoming one of the most convincing actors of his generation and in combination with the phenomenal make-up work mimics Willis with such precision you forgot it’s even him. And it doesn’t feel cheap, like making him look like Willis early in his career and doing an impression of him. You’re convinced this guy could get older and look and act like the older character played by Willis.

The performances by supporting actors are also excellent. Jeff Daniels is charismatic as the young Joe’s boss, who would usually be this stereotypical villain, here he is a mildly evil used car salesman with a lot of power. Paul Dano is Joe’s friend, it’s a pretty small role, but memorable, Dano is a young actor, who has been mostly excellent for the last decade, Emily Blunt is good as a vulnerable single mother with a tough exterior. And the 5 year-old Pierce Gagnon actually might have delivered the best child performance of quite a long time now. He totally sold it and I wasn’t annoyed by him as I am usually with child actors (Jake Lloyd?).

The time travel aspect is actually really well thought out and no wonder, since Shane Carruth, who made Primer consulted Rian Johnson and if there’s one person in Hollywood (read ‘sort of making movies’) that understands how hypothetical time travel might work, it’s Shane Carruth. But Johnson’s brilliant writing makes it so it’s not a cold examination of time travel paradoxes, but actually makes it a moving, human story, which happens to have awesome sci-fi concepts in it.

Overall, it’s nice to see an intelligent, entertaining, well-made, original and emotionally moving film, that’s a fucking R-rated sci-fi action piece. So far this is probably my favourite movie of the year. Definitely recommended.

“Hey, young me! I will shoot that midget if you don’t let me ass-fuck you! What are you worried about? If you think about it, it’s just some good ol’ masturbation!”